Gerrit Cole had his introductory press conference on Wednesday, as the Yankees officially unveiled their newest and shiniest acquisition.
The Yankees tried drafting Cole in 2008 out of high school, but he ultimately decided to head to UCLA. Cole was later selected number one overall by the Pirates in 2011, and Brian Cashman tried to trade for the ace two years ago, before Houston nabbed him before the 2018 season. Cashman was finally able to reel in his “white whale”, as he famously called Cole last week, with a record nine-year, $324 million deal.
Cole, 29, was asked why he chose to join the Yankees this time around, 11 years after he turned them down.
“It was my dream. I had a second opportunity to chase it, and it’s the best organization in my opinion in the league,” said Cole, who was a Yankees fan growing up. “There’s a process here that Brian [Cashman] spoke to about trying to bring the best people at each individual position to surround everybody with the best opportunity to succeed. I think they’ve demonstrated that certainly through Brian’s tenure over the last two decades. It instills a lot of confidence as a player when you hear those things, and it doesn’t hurt to play for your favorite team.”
The righty was also asked when and why he became a Yankees fan as a kid. Cole credited his father, who grew up in New York, for passing on the Yankees fandom.
“It’s hard not to fall in love with the Yankees from 1994 to 2002,” Cole said, noting that his dad’s favorite players growing up were guys like Willie Randolph and Mickey Rivers.
A native of Newport Beach, Calif., Cole added that he would watch Yankees games every day with his friends. “I’d rush home from school, pop the TV on outside, maybe invite a couple of my buddies cover, and we’d sit on the patio and watch the Yankees games,” he said. “What a franchise of tradition, success and championships. It kind of embodies the American dream.”
Andy Pettitte, Cole’s favorite pitcher as a kid, played a big role during the Yankees’ meeting with agent Scott Boras, Cole, and his wife, Amy, a few weeks ago.
In a separate interview with the YES Network after the press conference, Cole spoke about the impact Pettitte had.
“I think he’s certainly one of my favorite Yankees, and one of the city’s favorite Yankees. He tends to win in October. I know our meeting was in November, but when Andy pitches anything, whether it be to come to the Yankees, or a game in the postseason, he usually gets the W, and he did this time,” Cole said.
Of course, $324 million didn’t hurt, either.